They say we are awaiting a new world order, after this pandemic passes and we rush off into the busyness that constitutes our modern life, we will find that the world is not the same. The enormity of a virus invasion is bigger than we can envisage, jobs lost, broken economies, broken homes and so many dead before their time.
Cloistered in my own home with my children, husband, brother and dog, we have reconfigured our days to a slower rhythm. During these Easter holidays the children don’t have access to their phones or laptops. We watch movies together as a family and when my husband and I are working at our desks, we give them the time to figure out what to do with theirs. It is a luxury they have never had before.
As modern parents we have filled their days with school and after school classes. We have wanted to give them the best lest they fall behind. Over the last few days after the initial annoyances and sulks resulting from not having the internet, I have watched them lie on the couches reading for hours, the oldest gives an inordinate amount of attention to colors. Her art is a psychedelic dream of neons and shimmers. I feel I am peeping into her teenage heart. They play pretend games and help us clean the house and prep meals and clean up after. Their fingers linger on the piano keys.
The privilege of our isolation does not escape me. Sometimes I stand on the narrow patio of our home that faces what used to be a busy road, now quietened of traffic and I watch the people pass by. There are gloves and masks and mothers and children. London has not shut down as completely as many other European cities. Occasionally I go for a run and dodge other pedestrians. It is a like playing a game to veer away from people only I have always been that way.
I do not miss school drop offs and pick ups, I do not miss having to do small talk and small smiles with people I don’t know. I don’t miss all the things that we have to do in a world where outward action is more important than our isolated moments of meanderings. I have long been looking for a home. In the last ten years we have moved eleven times, from house to house, job to job, one state to another and countries and continents. I am complicit in the current human condition of overuse and abuse. The earth has begged us to stop in a way we cannot ignore.
Today when there is no choice, when all travel plans have been canceled, I sit at my table and am glad for a sky empty of airplanes and look down at the tiny backyard where the children find patches of sun to sit in and picnic. I watch carefully the many seeds I have planted come to sprout, blueberries and raspberries and tomatoes and lettuce, radish, beets, carrots, strawberries. They will not be rushed. They peep out bright green from the soil and then slowly they bend towards the sun. This is what I hope for us too. A gentle turning towards the light and no need for anything more.